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CHAPTER VI. 

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION 

In the tribunal of the divine will, as the inevitable source and universal cause of the whole creation, all things with their conditions and circumstances, are decreed and determined, so that nothing is forgotten and no created power can in the least impede the fulfillment of the decree. All the spheres and the inhabitants contained in them are dependent on this ineffable government that rules them and cooperates with the natural causes unfailingly and unerringly in all that must be done. God works in all and sustains all by his sole will; in Him lies the preservation of all things or their annihilation, for without Him they would return to the non-existence, from which they were drawn. But since He has created the universe for his glory and for the glory of the incarnate Word, therefore He has from the beginning opened the paths and prearranged the ways by which the same Word should lower Himself to assume human flesh and to live among men, and by which they might ascend toward God, know Him, fear Him, seek Him, serve Him, love Him, praise Him and enjoy Him eternally. As the opportune and preordained time had arrived, the three divine Persons conferred with each other saying: "Now is the time to begin the work of our pleasure and to call into existence that pure Creature and that soul, which is to find grace in our eyes above all the rest. Let Us furnish Her with richest gifts and let Us deposit in Her the great treasures of our grace. Since all others, whom We called into existence, have turned out ungrateful and rebellious to our wishes, frustrating our intention and impeding by their own fault our purpose, namely, that they conserve themselves in the happy state of their first parents, and since it is not proper, that our will should be entirely frustrated, let Us therefore create this being in entire sanctity and perfection, so that the disorder of the first sin shall have no part in Her. Let Us create a soul according to our pleasure, a fruit of our attributes, a marvel of our infinite power, without touch or blemish of the sin of Adam. Let Us perfect a work which is the object of our Omnipotence and a pattern of the perfection intended for our children, and the finishing crown of creation. All have sinned in the free will and resolve of the first man (Rom. 5, 12); let Her be the sole creature in whom We restore and execute that which they in their aberration have lost. Let Her be a most special image and likeness of our Divinity and let Her be in our presence for all eternity the culmination of our goodwill and pleasure. In Her We deposit all the prerogatives and graces which in our first and conditional resolve We had destined for the angels and men, if they had remained in their first estate. What they have lost We renew in that Creature and We will add to these gifts many others. Thus our first decree shall not be frustrated, but it shall be fulfilled in a higher manner through this our first and chosen One (Cant. 6, 8). And since We assigned and prepared the most perfect and estimable of our gifts for the creatures who have lost them, We will divert the stream of our bounty to our Well-beloved. We will set Her apart from the ordinary law, by which the rest of the mortals are brought into existence, for in Her the seed of the serpent shall have no part. I will descend from heaven into her womb and in it vest Myself from her substance with human nature."

"It is befitting and due to the infinite goodness of our Divinity, that It be founded and enclosed in the most pure matter, untouched and unstained by fault. Nor is it proper that our equity and providence overlook what is most apt, perfect and holy, and choose that which is inferior, since nothing can resist our will (Esther 13, 9). The Word, which is to become man, being the Redeemer and Teacher of men, must lay the foundation of the most perfect law of grace, and must teach through it, that the father and mother are to be obeyed and honored as the secondary causes of the natural existence of man. The law is first to be fulfilled by the divine Word by honoring Her as his chosen Mother, by exalting Her with a powerful arm, and lavishing upon Her the most admirable, most holy and most excellent of all graces and gifts. Among these shall be that most singular honor and blessing of not subjecting Her to our enemy, nor to his malice; and therefore She shall be free from the death of sin."

"On earth the Word shall have a Mother without a father, as in heaven He has a Father without a mother. And in order that there may be the proper correspondence, proportion and consonance in calling God his Father and this Woman his Mother, We desire that the highest correspondence and approach possible between a creature and its God be established. Therefore at no time shall the dragon boast of being superior to the Woman, whom God will obey as his true Mother. This dignity of being free from sin is due and corresponds to that of being Mother of the Word, and it is in itself even more estimable and useful. It is a greater good to be holy than to be only mother; but all sanctity and perfection is nevertheless due to the motherhood of God. The human flesh, from which He is to assume form, must be free from sin. Since He is to redeem in it the sinners, He must not be under the necessity of redeeming his own flesh, like that of sinners. Being united to the Divinity his humanity is to be the price of Redemption, wherefore it before all be preserved from sin, and We have already foreseen and accepted the merits of the Word in this very flesh and human nature. We wish that for all eternities the Word should be glorified through this tabernacle and habitation of the human nature."

"She is to be the daughter of the first man; but in the order of grace She is to be singularly free and exempt from fault; and in the order of nature She is to be most perfect, and to be formed according to a special providence. And since the incarnate Word is to be the Teacher of humility and holiness and for this end is to endure labors, confounding the vanity and deceitful fallacies of mortals by choosing for Himself sufferings as the treasure most estimable in our eyes. We wish that She, who is to be his Mother, experience the same labors and difficulties, that She be singularly distinguished in patience, admirable in sufferings, and that She, in union with the Onlybegotten, offer the acceptable sacrifices of sorrow to Us for her greater glory."

"Now the time has arrived," added his Majesty, "which was resolved upon by our Providence for bringing to light the Creature most pleasing and acceptable to our eyes. That Creature, in whom the human nature is freed from its first sin, who is to crush the head of the dragon, who was typified by that singular sign, the Woman that appeared in the heavens in our presence, and who is to clothe the eternal Word with human flesh. The hour is at hand, so blessed for mortals, in which the treasures of our Divinity are to be opened and the gates of heaven to be unlocked. Let the rigor of our justice be softened by the chastisements, which we have until now executed upon the mortals; let the attribute of our mercy become manifest; let the creatures be enriched, and let the divine Word merit for them the treasures of grace and of eternal glory."

"Now let the human race receive the Repairer, the Teacher, the Brother and Friend, to be life for mortals, a medicine for the sick, a consoler for the sorrowful, a balsam for the wounded, a guide and companion for those in difficulties. Let now the prophecies of our servants and the promises made to them that We would send a Savior to redeem them, be fulfilled. And in order that all may be executed according to our good pleasure, and that We may give a beginning to the mystery hidden since the constitution of the world, We select for the formation of our beloved Mary the womb of our servant Anne; in her be She conceived and in her let that most blessed Soul be created. Although her generation and formation shall proceed according to the usual order of natural propagation, it shall be different in the order of grace, according to the ordainment of our Almighty power."

"You do already know how the ancient serpent, since he saw the sign of this marvelous Woman, attempts to circumvent all women, and how, from the first one created, he persecutes all those, whom he sees excelling in the perfection of their works and life, expecting to find among them the One, who is to crush his head (Gen. 3, 15). When he shall encounter this most pure and spotless Creature, he shall find Her so holy that he will exert all his powers to persecute Her in pursuance of the concept which he forms of Her. But the arrogance of this dragon shall be greater than his powers (Is. 12, 7); and it is our will that you have particular charge of this our holy City and tabernacle of the incarnate Word, protecting, guarding, assisting and defending Her against our enemies, and that you enlighten, strengthen and console Her with all due solicitude and reverence as long as She shall be a wayfarer among the mortals."

At this proposal of the Most High all the holy angels, prostrate before the royal throne of the most holy Trinity, avowed their promptitude and eagerness to obey the divine mandate. Each one desired in holy emulation to be appointed, and offered himself for such a happy service; all of them gave to the Almighty praise and thanksgiving in new songs, because the hour had arrived for the fulfillment of that for which they had, with the most ardent desires, prayed through many ages. I perceived on this occasion that from the time of that great battle of saint Michael with the dragon and his allies, in which they were hurled into everlasting darkness while the hosts of Michael remained victorious and confirmed in grace and glory, these holy spirits commenced immediately to pray for the fulfillment of the mysteries of the Incarnation of the Word, of which they became cognizant at that time. And they persevered in these oft repeated prayers up to the hour in which God manifested to them the fulfillment of their desires and petitions.

On this account the celestial spirits at this new revelation conceived an additional joy and obtained new accidental glory, and they spoke to the Lord: "Most High and incomprehensible God and Lord, Thou art worthy of all reverence, praise and eternal glory; and we are thy creatures and made according to thy divine will. Send us, most powerful Lord, to execute thy most wonderful works and mysteries, in order that in all things thy most just pleasure may be fulfilled." In such terms of affection the heavenly princes acknowledged themselves as subjects; and if it had been possible, they desired to increase in purity and perfection in order to be more worthy guardians and servants of Mary.

Then the Most High chose and appointed those who were to be occupied in this exalted service (the guardianship of Mary) from each of the nine choirs of angels. He selected one hundred, being nine hundred in all. Moreover he assigned twelve others who should in a special manner assist Mary in corporeal and visible forms; and they were to bear the emblems or escutcheons of the Redemption. These are the twelve which are mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse as guarding the portals of the city; of them I will speak in the explanation of that chapter later on. Besides these the Lord assigned eighteen other angels, selected from the highest ranks, who were to ascend and descend by that mystical stairs of Jacob with the message of the Queen to his Majesty and those of the Lord to Her.

In addition to all these holy angels the Almighty assigned and appointed seventy seraphim, choosing them from the highest ranks and from those nearest to the Divinity, in order that they might communicate and converse with this Princess of heaven in the same way as they themselves have intercourse with each other, and as the higher communicate with the lower ones.

In order that this invincible warrior-troop might be well appointed, saint Michael, the prince of the heavenly militia was placed at their head, and although not always in the company of the Queen, he was nevertheless often near Her and often showed himself to Her. The Almighty destined him as a special ambassador of Christ our Lord and to act in some of the mysteries as the defender of his most holy Mother. In a like manner the holy prince Gabriel was appointed to act as legate and minister of the eternal Father in the affairs of the Princess of heaven. Thus did the most holy Trinity provide for the custody and the defense of the Mother of God.

The divine wisdom had now prepared all things for drawing forth the spotless image of the Mother of grace from the corruption of nature. The number and congregation of ancient Patriarchs and Prophets had been completed and gathered, and the mountains had been raised, on which this mystical City of God was to be built (Ps. 86, 2). By the power of his right hand He had already selected incomparable treasures of the Divinity to enrich and endow Her. A thousand angels were equipped for her guard and custody, that they might serve as most faithful vassals of their Queen and Lady. He had provided a noble and kingly ancestry from whom She should descend and had selected for Her most holy and perfect parents, than whom none holier or more perfect could be found in the world. For there is no doubt that if better and more apt parents existed, the Almighty would have selected them for Her, who was to be chosen by God as his Mother.

In the formation of the body of the most holy Mary the wisdom and power of the Almighty proceeded so cautiously that the quantities of the four natural elements of the human body, the sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic and choleric, were compounded in exact proportion and measure; in order that by this most perfect proportion in its mixture and composition it might assist the operations of that holy Soul with which it was to be endowed and animated. This wonderfully composed temperament was afterwards the source and the cause, which in its own way made possible the serenity and peace that reigned in the powers and faculties of the Queen of heaven during all her life. Never did any of these elements oppose or contradict nor seek to predominate over the others, but each one of them supplemented and served the others, continuing in this well ordered fabric without corruption or decay. Never did the body of the most Holy Mary suffer from the taint of corruption, nor was there anything wanting or anything excessive found in it; but all the conditions and proportions of the different elements were continuously adjusted, without any want or excess in what was necessary for her perfect existence and without excess or default in dryness or moisture. Neither was there more warmth than was necessary for maintenance of life or digestion; nor more cold than was necessary for the right temperature and for the maintenance of the bodily humors.

On the Saturday next following, the Almighty created the soul of his Mother and infused it into the body; and thus entered into the world that pure Creature, more holy, perfect and agreeable to His eyes than all those He had created, or will create to the end of the world, or through the eternities. God maintained a mysterious correspondence in the execution of this work with that of creating all the rest of the world in seven days, as is related in the book of Genesis. Then no doubt He rested in truth, according to the figurative language of Scripture, since He has now created the most perfect Creature of all, giving through it a beginning to the work of the divine Word and to the Redemption of the human race. Thus was this day a paschal feast for God and also for all creatures.

By the force of this divine pronouncement and through the love with which it issued from the mouth of the Almighty, was created and infused into the body of most holy Mary her most blessed Soul. At the same time She was filled with grace and gifts above those of the highest seraphim of heaven, and there was not a single instant in which She was found wanting or deprived of the light, the friendship and love of the Creator, or in which She was touched by the stain or darkness of original sin. On the contrary She was possessed of the most perfect justice, superior to that of Adam and Eve in their first formation. To Her was also concealed the most perfect use of the light of reason, corresponding to the gifts of grace, which She had received. Not for one instant was She to remain idle, but to engage in works most admirable and pleasing to her Maker.

Although She was adorned as the Bride, descending from heaven, endowed with all perfections and with the whole range of infused virtues, it was not necessary that She should exercise all of them at once, it being sufficient that She exercise those, which were befitting her state in the womb of her mother. Among the first thus exercised were the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, which relate immediately to God. These she at once practiced in the most exalted manner recognizing by a most sublime faith the Divinity with all its perfections and its infinite attributes, and the Trinity with its distinction of Persons. This knowledge by faith was not impeded by the higher knowledge which God gave her, as I will soon demonstrate. She exercised also the virtue of hope, seeing in God the object of her happiness and her ultimate end. Toward this her sanctified Soul at once hastened and aspired with the most intense desires of uniting Herself with God and without having for one moment turned to any other object or tarried one moment in her upward flight. At the same instant also She put into action the virtue of charity, seeing in God the infinite and highest Good, and conceiving such an intense appreciation of the Divinity, that not all the seraphim could ever reach such an eminent degree of fervor and virtue.

The other virtues which adorn and perfect the rational part of the creature, She possessed in a proportion corresponding to the theological virtues. The moral and natural virtues were hers in a miraculous and supernatural measure, and in a still more exalted manner was She possessed of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost in the order of grace. She had an infused knowledge and habit of all these virtues and of all the natural arts, so that She knew and was conversant with the whole natural and supernatural order of things, in accordance with the grandeur of God. Hence from her first instant in the womb of her mother, She was wiser, more prudent, more enlightened, and more capable of comprehending God and all his works, than all the creatures have been or ever will be in eternity, excepting of course her most holy Son.

In correspondence with this wonderful knowledge of her most holy soul at the instant of its union with the body, Mary exerted Herself by eliciting heroic acts of virtue, of incomparable admiration, praise, glorification, adoration, humility, love of God and sorrow for the sins committed against Him whom She recognized as the Author and end of these admirable works. She hastened to offer Herself as an acceptable sacrifice to the Most High, beginning from that instant with fervent desire to bless Him, love Him and honor Him, because She perceived that the bad angels and men failed to know and love Him. She requested the holy angels whose Queen She already was, to help Her to glorify the Creator and Lord of all, and to pray also for Her.

The Lord in this instant showed Her also her guardian angels, whom she recognized and accepted with joyful submission, inviting them to sing canticles of praise to the Most High alternatively with Her. She announced to them beforehand that this was to be the service which they were to render Her during the whole time of Her mortal life, in which they were to act as her assistants and guards. She was informed moreover of her whole genealogy of all the rest of the holy people chosen by God, the Patriarchs and Prophets, and how admirable his Majesty was in the gifts, graces and favors wrought in them. It is worthy of admiration, that, although the exterior faculties of her body at the creation of her most holy Soul were hardly large enough to be distinguished, nevertheless, in order that none of the miraculous excellence with which God could endow his Mother might be wanting, He ordained by the power of right hand, that in perceiving the fall of man She shed tears of sorrow in the womb of her mother at the gravity of the offense against the highest Good.

In this wonderful sorrow at the instant of her coming into existence, She began to seek a remedy for mankind and commenced the work of mediation, intercession and reparation. She offered to God the clamors of her ancestors and of the just of the earth, that his mercy might not delay the salvation of mortals, whom she even looked upon as her brethren. Before She ever conversed with them with the most ardent charity and with the very beginning of her existence She assumed the office of Benefactress of men and exercised the divine and fraternal love enkindled in her heart. These petitions the Most High accepted with greater pleasure than the prayers of all the saints and angels and this pleasure of God was also made known to Her, who was created to be the Mother of God. She perceived the love of God and his desire to descend from heaven in order to redeem men, though She knew not how it should be consummated. It was befitting that God should feel Himself impelled to hasten his coming on account of the prayers and petitions of this Creature; since it was principally for the love of Her that He came, and since in Her body He was to assume human flesh, accomplish the most admirable of all his works, and fulfill the end of all other creatures.

In writing of these sacraments of the King, howsoever honorable it is to reveal his works, I confess my inaptitude and incapacity, being only a woman, and I am afflicted, because I am speaking in such common and vague terms, which fall entirely short of that, which I perceive in the light given to my soul for the understanding of these mysteries. In order to do justice to such sublimity, there were need of other words, more particular and especially adapted terms and expressions, which are beyond my ignorance. And even if they were at my service, they would be weighed down and made insipid by human weakness. Let therefore this human imbecility acknowledge itself unequal and incapable of fixing its eyes on this heavenly sun, with which the rays of the Divinity break upon the world, although yet beclouded in the maternal womb of holy Anne. If we seek permission to approach this wonderful sight, let us come near free and unshackled. Let us not allow ourselves to be detained, neither by our natural cowardice nor by a base fear and hesitation, even though it be under the cloak of humility. Let us all approach with the greatest devotion and piety, free from the spirit of contention (Rom. 13, 12); then we will be permitted to examine with our own eyes the fire of the Divinity burning in the bush without consuming it (Exodus 2, 2). 

WORDS OF THE QUEEN 

It is an act of justice due to the eternal God that the creature coming to the use of reason, direct its very first movement toward God. By knowing, it should begin to love Him, reverence Him and adore Him as its Creator and only true Lord. The parents are naturally bound to instruct their children from their infancy in this knowledge of God and to direct them with solicitous care, so that they may at once see their ultimate end and seek it in their first acts of the intellect and will. They should with great watchfulness withdraw them from the childishness and puerile trickishness to which depraved nature will incline them if left without direction. If the fathers and mothers would be solicitous to prevent these vanities and perverted habits of their children and would instruct them from their infancy in the knowledge of their God and Creator, then they would afterwards easily accustom them to know and adore Him. My holy mother, who knew not of my wisdom and real condition, was most solicitously beforehand in this matter, for when She bore me in her womb, she adored in my name the Creator and offered worship and thanks for his having created me, beseeching Him to defend me and bring me forth to the light of day from the condition in which I then was. So also parents should pray with fervor to God, that the souls of their children, through his Providence, may obtain Baptism and be freed from the servitude of original sin.

And if the rational creature has not known and adored the Creator from the first dawn of reason, it should do this as soon as it obtains knowledge of the essential God by the light of faith. From that very moment the soul must exert itself never to lose Him from her sight, always fearing Him, loving Him, and reverencing Him.

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